The 2022 Kia Carnival Barely Missed an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Rating Due to Bad Headlights

The Kia Carnival is one of the most satisfying new minivans on the market that some critics are raving about. It’s a refreshing new uptake on the minivan industry that excels in many ways, even in safety. According to the IIHS, the Carnival is a winner for this new model, but it doesn’t quite meet the requirements for the best award they offer. The Kia Carnival’s headlights stopped it from reaching that coveted place.

Introducing the 2022 Kia Carnival

The 2022 Kia Carnival minivan/MPV front grille and headlights
The 2022 Kia Carnival minivan/MPV | Kia America

You might remember the Kia Sedona minivan, which is known for its poised handling and creature comforts. This van will no longer be in the lineup, however. Replacing it is the new Carnival, which considers itself more of a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) than a minivan. 

The styling alone is impressive, and it promises to turn heads among consumers. The Korean Carnival model debuted a sport utility/minivan vehicle that could seat up to 11 people. Now we see a similar one on American soil, and it’s drawing quite a bit of interest. 

The Sedona was part of the minivan generation, which is actually beginning to phase out among the automaker’s lineups. However, some are still going strong, like the Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota Sienna, mainly because of some refreshments to styling and/or performance specs. Kia decided to introduce a new species of sorts and bring a so-called mashup of the minivan and SUV with the Carnival MPV. 

When you first look at it, you won’t notice the sliding doors that are indicative of a minivan design. They blend in just enough to look like a regular SUV exterior. Additionally, it sports Kia’s iconic front-end grille, which gives it an aggressive look that you don’t see with minivans that are typically a soccer-mom mode of transportation. 

Did this Kia minivan/MPV impress the IIHS?

The Kia Carnival actually did impress the IIHS team because they ultimately gave it their Top Safety Pick award for how well it stood up in their testing. In all six crashworthiness tests, the Carnival hit the ball out of the park and received their ‘Good’ rating on all of them. 

The Carnival was very close to getting the Top Safety Pick+ award, which is the best one you can get from the IIHS, but it failed in one minor test. The headlights on the Carnival earned a less than stellar rating because of inadequate illumination. To qualify for the Top Safety Pick+ award, the Carnival needed to get a good or acceptable rating on all trim levels. 

That’s too bad because the SX Prestige trim level did earn a ‘Good’ rating for its LED projector headlights. However, it seems the ones on the lower trims aren’t up to snuff. 

What you can expect from the 2022 Kia Carnival


It’s Not a Minivan: Kia Dubs the 2022 Carnival an ‘MPV’

You can choose from one of five different trim levels on the Carnival. The base or LX model offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Kia’s safety suite of features, and a remote start feature as standard equipment. Its starting price begins at $32,100. However, only moving up to the top trims will gain you some of the better features. 

The top trim available, the SX Prestige, comes with reclining seats in the middle row with a footrest. You also get leather trimming, top-notch heating and ventilation, and removable second-row seats. The starting price for the SX Prestige trim is just over $47,000. 

Powering up the Carnival is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 290 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Paired with it is an eight-speed automatic transmission that enables the minivan to go from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. Braking distance isn’t bad either. It can stop within 118 feet from 60 to 0 mph. 

It’s sad to see the Sedona go, but with what we see the Carnival can do, it might not be such a bad thing after all. Once it’s in the consumer’s hands, it could be just what the minivan segment needs for a comeback.